GENERAL LABOURERS' DISPUTE. APPLICATIONS FOR EXEMPTION. A mooting of the Conciliation Council was held at tho Supreme Court yesterday morning to consider tho General Labourers' dispute. Mr J. I?. Triggs (Conciliation Commissioner) presided, and had with him as assessor, Messrs W. Jacques (Christchurch), V.". 11. Preen (Timaru). and B. Moore I (St. Albans) for the employers, and Messrs E. Howard. J. Bradshaw, and L. R. Wilson for tho workers. Mr J. Patterson represented the Union, Mr P. Graham appeared for the Builders' Association, Mr W. Pryor for tho South Canterbury employers, ami Mr IT. D. Broadhead for the Canterbury Employers' Association. Mr T. V.\ Horsley, representing the Christchurch Brick Company, applied for exemption on the ground that the brickmakers were already working under the award. Mr Patterson opposed the application on tho ground that the award referred to covered the brickmaking business only, and did not cover brickmakers' labourers, who were frequently employed in work connected with extension of works. The Commissioner said he wished afc that stage to explain that he had at first understood that tho matter might he referred to the Arbitration Court, but he had since been advised that tha Council would have to go into tho matter exhausitvely. and endeavour to effect a settlement. Continuing, Mr Horsley said that men were only wanted for repairs very occasionally. Tho Chairman said that he would cou--ider the application. Mr AY. J. Bardsley applied for exemption on behalf of the Timaru Harbour Board In the Otago award, tho Otago Harbour Board wero not included, and in Wellington the Board ■were not included, these Boards not being cited. In the engine drivers' award also the Timaru Harbour Board had been exempted altogether. Mr C. Hood Williams claimed exemption for the Lyttelton Harbour Board. Tho Wellington Harbour Board, he said, had not even been cited in connection with the general labourers' dispute At present the men wero working under the stevedores' award. The Board was exempted from the engine drivers' award. Mr Patterson, in reply, said ho believed that at Nelson the Harbour Board was bound by tho award. It was an extraordinary thing that local bodies should endoavour to escape- from conditions which bound ordinary contractors. Mr R. C. Bishop applied for exemption on behalf of the Christchurch GasCompany. It was necessary, for the convenience of tho public, that the company should have full control of tho staff. It was not so -mch a matter of wages ns of hours ai.d general conditions. The conditions proposed would interfere with the convenience of the public. Mr W. J. Pryor said that tho Timaru Gas Company also applied for exemption. Mr Patterson said the matter had been gone into two years ago by tho Arbitration Court, when tho Christchurch Gas Company was granted a very limited exemption, and he could see no reason why that should now bo altered. Only two ot the gas companies in Canterbury had objected to citation. The gas companies, if exempted, could then employ labourers for building work at 6s a day if they wanted to, and so enter into unfair competition with builders and contractors. Tho Wellington Gas Company was bound by the Wellington award, and had received no exemption at all. In other districts also the gas companies were bound. Mr Bisno'i said that in respect of tho buildings, the company had been working under the brickmakers' award, and were therefore in the samo position as any other contractor.
The Commissioner suggested that tho gas companies might be bound by one award to cover all tho branches of tho work.
slr Patterson said there were too many objections in the way, for the gas companies only employed outside men at short intervals, and such men would then have to join two unions. Mr Bishop said the Commissioner's suggestion was a good one, and there was, as far as he could sco then, no reasons why it should not bo carried out.
Mr Broadhead applied for exemption on behalf of the South Waimakariri River Board, which he said was practi- '< cally a Government department, and as such was exempt. The position was that tho Union was trying, through the Conciliation Council, to do what tho Arbitration Court said could not be dono, that was to extend the operation of an award to other industries. The general labourers' dispute really re- ; forred only to builders' labourers. Tho ; Arbitration Court had held at Auckland that an award could not bo mado to co%'er all industries, but a particular industry should be identified, and each class of employer brought separately before the Conciliation Council. Tbe Court also held that the inclusion of several distinct matters in an application might lead to the dismissing of the application, also that all encaged in one particular industry should be bound by j ono award, and not several. Tho union i were trying to build up a strong union , and they did not mind how they did it, whether they upset the general course of business or not. He maintained that each branch of industry affected should be dealt with separately. -Mr Patterson, in reply, said that the cla&> of labourers referred to by tho Court was that engaged in such industries as freezing work, and sugar works. The Union .had endeavoured to extend the general labourers' award io tho grain trade, but tho President of the Council hold that that could not be done. A new award would havo to bo obtained and tho Union had proceeded on those lines. Regarding the Waimakariri River Board, he would point out that- in the Wellington award a River Board was included by the Arbitration Court Local bodies at presen. could compete with private contractors in tho way of carrying out their work by day labour, and he had known of cases w-licre local bodies had paid their , .labourers as littlo as o_ a day. The. ' demands of the Union related only io buildings and contracting work, and there was no attempt made to bring tin other trades.
Mr Broadhead. in reply, said that the Arbitration Court had refused vo
include the wool and gram employees in the labourers' award, and a special, set of conditions was drawn up for tho.->e people. That was all that was asked in the present case —separate conditions, not separate unions. Mr Broadhead then applied for .x----eniption for the Christchurch Drainage Board. Then* w.is no reason why ih<-> Board should be bound by the proposed conditions, anrl tho Board had already been exempted from the engine-driv-ers' award.
Sir Patterson objected io the application. The Board, he said, empluyed a great many men at times doing repair and ofch.'r work, and wero competing with ordinary contractors, and for that reason thou Id be placed in the same position. Mr .S. P. who roprevented the (juarry owner.--, said that the quarry people wore already working under several awards which governed the whole of the industry. He claimed exemption from the prop-i_ed labourer-' award.
Mr Patterson, in reply, said that tho f|uan*ymen's award Ivatl expired some time ago, the r-uarrymen disbanded as a union and joined the general labourers' Union and helped to draw up the proposed conditions. Mr Justice. Sim had ruled that when the ejuarry award expired either a new award, could be obtained or the men brought in under a general labourers' award. Quarrymen were included in the Wellington general labourers' award. Mr l'\ Thompson applied for exemption on behalf of tho Tramway Board. An agreement hatl recently been arrived at which cove reel all the men affected by the present dispute. The Chairman said that the general labourer-, were included in the agreement.
Mr Patterson said he took it that the agreement would cover tho present staff of permanent men only, but the Board woulel probably be carrying on extension works shortly, and the men employed on those works should oomo under tho labourers' award.
Mr Thompson said it was not likely that the Board would employ its own labour as regards extensions, for it had practically been decided to let the work by contract.
Mr J. Otley applied for exemption on behalf of the master plasterers, who were working under an award at present who proposed when the award expired to havo'the p....tc_eis' labourem included in the new award.
The Chairman expressed the opinion that, the matter couild be dealt with in the builders' award.
'Mr W. J. Dim_o_>. chairman of the Selwyn County Council, applied for exemption on behalf of iris Council, the Akaroa County Council, tho. Springs Reael Board, and the Akaroa and Wainui Road Board. AH those local bodies considered it would bo impossible to work under the conditions proposed. As far as he knot*, tho men employed were satisfied with the wages and the conditions of work.
Mr W. J. Pryor said he eiuestioned very much whether the dispute was in order at all in vi_w of the recent ruling of tho Arbitration Court, winch laid it down that a tlisputc witih each class of employer should be made a separate dispute. That had not been dono in tho present case, and he took it the Council were bound by tho rulings of the Arbitration Court. Tho Union had mado no attomjSt to deal with tho different conditions of work as carried on by tho different sets of parties. If tho dispute were divided up in the way proposed, there would bo a much better chance of settling it. At present it was questionable whether the. Council could go on with the dispute. Even if it could, what was the use of going on in view of tho unwieldy way in which it had been brought before the Council. If the Council held that the elispute was not properly beforo it, it could instruct the Union to split up the dispute, and each section could be dealt with separately by different sets oi assessors.
Tlie Chairman said that he had power to strike out whoever he liked. Ho did not think the Council were wrong in what they wero doing. Mr Pryor said that the intimation of tho Arbitration Court was clear and shouJd bo followed by the Conciliation Council.
The Chairman said that the Council was governed by the Arbitration Court in matters of procedure. The matter of Mr Pryor's objection would be taken after tho applications for exemption had been dealt with.
Mr Pryor then asked for exemptiou on behalf of the Timaru Borough Council and other local bodies in' the district. If the Council could not grant the exemptions asked, he would, on behalf of the South Canterbury employers and local bodies, ask that conferences should bo held between the representatives of the workers and of the local bodies, with a view of reaching a settlement. At present the thing was too complicated to allow of any finality being reached.
Mr Broadhead also applied for exemption on behalf of the Amuri County Council, wh. considered tho claims were absolutely unworkable and they would have to discharge all their labourers if the demands were granted.
Mr F. Horrcll. who represented tbe Mamleville and Rangiora Road Board, supported the proposal for the holding of a conference. The conditions proposed would be absolutely unworkable.
Mr G. W. Lend ley applied for exemption for the Wakanui -Road Board, and Mr John Lambio for the Ashburton County and Borough Councils., the Mount Hutt Road Board, the "South Kakaia Road Board, the Coldstream Road Board, and the Upper Ashburton Road Board. Mr Lambie said thattlulocal bodies lie represented considered that the proposed conditions would be unworkable. The employees of the-Ash-burton Borough Council had adopted a resolution to the < effect that they did not want to come under the direction of the Labourers' Union.
Mi* J. H. Sharpe applied for exemption for the Riccarton Read Board, Mr C. W. Comber for the Halswell Road Board, Mr G. F. Hickman for the Kowai Road Board, Mr R. Mcintosh for the Ashley Road Beard.
Mr R. Evan?, who represented the Waver Supply Board*. Drainage Boards, and Road Boards in the Ashley county, also the employers ot labour in the Rangiora district, applied for exemption. Ho said that tho bodies ho. represented would find it impossible to work under tho conditions proposed., for the conditions in the country wero so different- to what they were in the town. If the case d'u', on he would •isk that a meeting -hmikl be held .«. Rangiora.
Mr Lnrnbie applied for a meeting at Ashburton. . , Applications for exemption were matk> on behalf of the Waipara Road Board, and Waimakariri-Ashle-y Water fc-up*. _- Board. Oxford. Mr Broadhead sail, that Rinnglo pit people desired a different set or conditions. The Chairman said that -hat matter could' be gone into when the case was heard. , . Mr J. R. Thacker, on behalf ct the Oka ins Road Board aud the Le Rons' Road Board, and Mr W. G. Lunn, on behalf of the Ellesmere Road Board, aUo applied for exemption. Mr Patterson, in reply, said that the Labourers' Union had never had any connection with the farm labourers, and it was incorrect to say, as had been said, that the present di.pute had arisen out of the failure of the farm labourers' dispute. There was no intention on the part of tho Union to affect the farmers. Five local road boards were at present working tyider an award, but of those five only two, Riccarton and Halswell, had made applications for exemption. The other three, Avon, Spreydon, and Heathcote, were apparently .satisfied. Mr Sharoe said that the officers of those three Boards wore- unable "to attend on account of their duties as returning officers. Furthermore, they had been e.iven to understand that the sitting would only bo a formal one to send the matter on io the Arbitration Court. Mr Prvor said that a general application for exemption oi' all the local bodies had been mado. The Chairman said that if one local body were exempted all would be. Mr Patterson said he recognised that some ot the clauses re the demands would not be xevy workable for Road Beard, and County Councils, and the I. nion would be prepared to allow certain matters to go on as they were. The Chairman said that was a 'matter wJu.h could be cone into after the Council had decided what they would do. The Council would adiourn till three o'clock to consider the exemption applications that had been made. Mr Pryor applied for tho insertion of a general clause exempting cert-iin contracts. The Chairman said that that would be done. When the* Council resumed at three • clock, the Chairman said that it had been decidexl to grant exemptions to 11- Harbour Board, tho Tramway lean], on account of an agreement being arrived at, County Councils, Road Boards, Town Boards, River Beards, and the Waimakariri-Ashley Water .Supply Board Hie following applications for exemptions had been refused : —Quarry owners, brickmakers, plasterers, gasworks, provided the exception*- were allow.d as at present, other Councils, and the Drainage Board. After a short consultation with Mr Tatterson, Mr Prvor sajd that there was some probability that some basis for settlement could be obtained apart from the Council. Mr Patterson had offered to take the Wellington award a; a basis lor settlement, and if tbe Ccuncil adjourned in the meantime tho part res could talk the matter over, and would possibly be able to come to a settlement. Tho Council was then adjourned until the next morning, at 10 o'clock. (PHESS ASSOCIATION TELEGRAM.) AUCKLAND. April 2S. Lite Conciliation Commissioner, Mr T. H. Giles, presided at the conferences between parties in the ship, yacht and boatbuilders' dispute and cartels' dispute. In both 'ca_e_ settlements satisfactory to both parties were arrived at, and tho Commissioner was accordeel a hearty vote of thanks.
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